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Pemba Dive Sites

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Pemba offers superb diving opportunities with unspoilt coral gardens and a vast array of marine life. At present only the West and South coasts have been explored and all the sites mentioned are in these areas. While most diving is from live-aboard boats, it is also possible to make exciting shore dives


Experience
Pemba is best suited to the experienced diver due to strong currents and great depths. There are some sites suited to the less experienced diver but conditions should always be checked first. Drift dives are the most common due to the currents and it is advisable to carry a surface marker buoy.

Panza Point : Emerald Reef

It is due to the beautiful green coral that this site is known as the emerald reef. With visibility ranging from 40-60m and a maximum depth of 30m this makes a great site for drift diving. The highlight of the reef though is the abundance of large fish especially the huge shoals of barracuda, cruising sharks and wrasse.
Access: Same as for Kokota Reef

Summary
If you are short of time and have to select the best sites then an itinerary which includes Manta Point, Mesali Island and the Emerald Reef at Panza Point should satisfy even the most demanding diver.

Uvinje Gap: Southern Wall

Visibility ranges from 40-50m and the reef falls from 6-40m, making it good for snorkelling. This is a fun site to dive with large overhangs, swim-throughs and brilliant coral forming the sheer fall. There is a good variety of large and small fish including moray eels and stonefish and by diving deep down this side of the gap
a gentle ascent to the surface should eliminate the need for a safety stop.
Access: same as for Kokota Reef

Mesali Island

The calm waters give visibility of 40-60m and the clarity of the water can make the huge depths deceiving. The reef starts at only 5m and the steep walls plummet down beyond 600m. The coral is superb, the water is breathtakingly clear and the numerous large fish make this site a divers dream. Snorkelling is equally impressive, the turquoise waters, fine sunsets and untouched beach make Mesali Island a must for your itinerary.
Access: same as for Kokota Reef

Panza Point: Wreck Dive

This wreck lies in water of 3-10m and is exposed at low tide. It looks like an old steamer and the clarity of the water added to abundant marine life makes this a good photographic site and in calm waters it also makes an interesting night dive.
Access: same as for Kokota Reef

Kokota Reef

This site is ideal for night diving due to the calmer waters and shallower depths, ranging from 8-20m. Among the numerous creatures that venture out after dark, the scarlet Spanish dancer makes an especially intriguing spectacle.
Access: by live-aboard boats from Kenya, dive operators in Zanzibar

Njao Gap: north

Pristine coral reef including interesting tabletop coral, good light, abundant marine life. Visibility is from 15-40m on average and the reef starts at 8m descending to 30m.
Access: by live-aboard boats from Kenya , Manta Reef Camp on P emba or through dive operators in Zanzibar .

Njao Gap: south

Visibility is from 30-40m and the top of the reef is at 20m in the north and 12m in the south, dropping off steeply. This steep wall offers huge overhangs and large gorgonian sea fans. Marine life often seen include eels, giant grouper, turtles, Napolean wrasse and numerous smaller fish.
Access: same as for Njao north.

Fundu Reef

Visibility averages from 20-40m and this is one of the best sites in the world for close encounters with the giant manta rays which give this site it’s name. The rays can be seen in groups of up to 15 and rise to depths of only 9m. The best time to see them is usually early in the morning or late afternoon. The huge variety of coral and fish to be found at the pinnacle can easily occupy one dive so it is highly recommended to include at least 2 dives at Manta Point in your itinerary as this is truly one of the finest dive sites to be found.
Access: same as for Njao north

Uvinje Gap: Northern Wall

Visibility varies from 20-40m and the reef has many types of coral including lettuce, tabletop and large anemones. There is an impressive drop off which harbours reef sharks under it’s shelves and a wide variety of sponges and reef dwellers.
Access: same as for Njao north

Water temperature

The water temperature is generally around 27oC and is constant to depths exceeding sport-diving limits. A 3mm wetsuit should be sufficient.

Recompression Chamber
The closest recompression chamber is at the Kenyan naval base in Mombasa. The closest hospitals are at Chake Chake and Mkoani and Wete

When to go
The best diving is from October to March. The seas can be unpredictable in the Pemba Channel for the rest of the year and this affects currents and visibility. The best months to see manta rays are from December to February.

Last Updated on Monday 7th December 2009

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